by Vanessa Alvarez

VMForce, Explained: A Faster Path to Apps in the Cloud

Apr 28, 2010
Data Center

What does VMForce, unveiled this week by VMware and Salesforce, mean to your IT department? Think quick app development.

Tuesday, in a much anticipated joint public announcement, VMware and leveraged their enterprise expertise and came to market with VMforce, a platform-as-a service offering designed to enable Java developers to create and deploy new enterprise applications in the cloud with the ease, flexibility, security and scalability that is needed in today’s enterprise environment. What does it mean to IT?

VMware’s acquisition of SpringSource, a force in the open source community, gave them amongst many other things, the Java capability (the most popular language used today), obviously a key component of VMforce, and also the capabilities for application portability that will be essential for cloud in the future. 

VMware’s vCloud is also key to this offering, as it provides the provisioning, configuration and management capabilities needed to make VMforce an enterprise ready platform.  PaaS offerings help enterprises to leverage the cloud for the creation and deployment of next generation cloud applications.

Historically, there has been a tug of war between developers and operations staff within enterprises.  Because of this challenge, and the lack of effective tools in the market, it has taken a great deal of time to create and deploy applications.  Developers look to create and deploy as quickly as possible, but count on operations to provide the necessary tools and resources.  Operations focus more on the efficiencies of IT and struggle with the “needs” of developers, and as a result, lag on their requests. 

This is more of a cultural challenge than a technological one, but also financially impacts an organization, as resources (human, time, IT) are wasted with this organizational struggle.  It is an obstacle that hinders an organization in achieving its end goal. 

What Does It Mean for Enterprises?

It’s clear that deploying a cloud computing model within an enterprise’s IT environment provides a competitive advantage, particularly with the macroeconomic situation occurring now.  Most enterprises today are already down the virtualization path, having realized many of the benefits that virtualization offers.  Although cloud is still very much nascent in terms of mass adoption, there is much interest.   VMware is extending the virtualization path to the cloud with vCloud, enabling enterprises to make a clean and seamless transition. 

Enterprises are looking for ways to increase their competitive advantage, while at the same time reducing IT’s overall costs.  Having an efficient, flexible, agile, on demand infrastructure in place is the first step in achieving the cost reductions. 

However, creating and deploying applications that can enable a great user experience for their customers or that can enable their business users to be more efficient is also critical.  In most cases, packaged applications don’t necessarily meet all of an enterprise’s needs.  Often, there is a great deal of customization involved in creating applications that fit the needs of a business.  A platform-as-a-service offering, such as VMforce, allows developers to create and deploy these vertical specific applications quickly and efficiently, and it can all be done in the cloud. 

It simplifies the process for developers and enables the business to benefit from new applications that can be leveraged for the competitive advantage they seek.   There are a number of platform-as-a-service offerings out in the market today, each with its unique value proposition.  Enterprises must assess the needs of their business and determine what best meets their requirements.  Equipping developers with the right tools to provide business value is essential. 

However, enterprises must also look to encourage a partnership between their developers and operations teams.  Leaving the creation and deployment of applications in the hands of developers and a PaaS offering alleviates the responsibility from operations.  That does not mean that operations no longer have anything to do with applications.  The lines of communications must continue to be open between these two teams as they, together, look to leverage tools and services that ultimately, add to an enterprise’s bottom line. 

See’s recent related story: Cloud Computing: It’s The Economics, Stupid.

Vanessa Alvarez is an Industry Analyst with Frost & Sullivan focusing on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market dynamics in the area of enterprise infrastructure in North America. Follow her on Twitter @VanessaAlvarez1.